Spectacular new building to be commissioned

The Ibberson building, dating from 1914

The Victorian Great Hall at Homerton is one of the College’s glories, but catering in the Hall is held back by a small kitchen which will soon reach its absolute capacity, and which cannot be expanded or improved in its present location.  To meet this challenge, the College’s Governing Body has approved a plan to construct a spectacular new dining hall and kitchen next to the Arts and Crafts-style Ibberson building, and to open up the Great Hall to a wider variety of student uses.

The College has launched an architectural competition to create a stunning new dining hall, on the site of an incoherent group of small functional buildings –the Hilary Shuard Building of administrative offices, the P7 portakabin, and the squash courts.  The cost of the new hall is estimated at £7 million, which will be funded from existing College resources set aside for the Estate Strategy, and it is envisaged that construction will begin in the second quarter of 2018.

The kitchen serving the Great Hall was put in place 15 years ago when the resident student number was 470, and with current residents numbering nearly 800, an expanded kitchen is now necessary.  The space freed up by removing it from its current location will be used to put new student facilities in the heart of the College: including an improved Junior Common Room, an enlarged office for the Homerton Union of Students, several music practice rooms, an art studio and an exhibition space.

The project will also enable the 19th-century Cavendish bar to be brought back into regular use, and the gallery in the Great Hall – which currently houses a tangle of air-handling pipes from the kitchen – to be reinstated. 

Ruth Taylor, JCR President 2015-16, said:

“Students have long campaigned for a proper JCR and more student facilities, and this project will provide some of the best facilities of any of the Cambridge Colleges. 

Many students like me were initially dismayed at the thought of not eating daily in the Great Hall, but the huge benefits of this project for student life speak for themselves, and most students are enthusiastic about the grand vision for the new hall alongside the old Great Hall.  The College intends the new dining hall to be every bit as special as the Great Hall, so it’ll be exciting to come back to Homerton in a few years and see the result!”

Professor Geoffrey Ward, Principal of Homerton, said:  

“The decision has been taken with much care and process, because the Great Hall is so precious to many of us.  We have therefore ensured that through these changes students will be able to make greater, not lesser, use of the Hall – for drama, music, lectures and seminars - and also that we can still use the Great Hall on occasion for formal dinners.”  

Deborah Griffin, Bursar, said:

“We are very conscious that the new hall has to be a building that will serve the College for the next 250 years, both functionally and architecturally.  We have appointed Malcolm Reading Consultants to search for a design team to create a spectacular building that will be a unique landmark on our campus.”     

Expressions of interest are now being sought from architectural firms.  Regular updates will be provided on progress.

Picture:  The Ibberson building, dating from 1914.  © Homerton College / Alex Ramsay